Sellafield is the most complex industrial site requiring remediation in Western Europe, comprising approximately 700 acres in West Cumbria.

Nuclear operations on the site commenced in the late 1940’s, with the site operations performed reflecting the full range of activities undertaken by the UK civil nuclear industry.

The Sellafield site consists of more than 2,200 buildings including 170 major nuclear facilities.

As the site transitions from reprocessing operations, which will cease around 2020, the major focus will shift to Post Operational Clean Out (POCO), waste management and decommissioning activities.

Due to the variety of operations performed at Sellafield, a wide range of challenges will need to be addressed including:

•  Characterisation of enclosed cells containing redundant chemical operations

•  Gloveboxes used for research, development and fuel fabrication operations

•  Facilities used for the storage of spent fuel

•  Waste storage and handling facilities

•  Spent nuclear fuel reprocessing facilities

•  Pipe and ductwork within a range of plants

•  Sewers, pipe bridges and trenches

Sellafield Ltd performs a lot of characterisation for decommissioning, requiring significant input from the supply chain. This will ramp up significantly as the site prepares for an increased intensity in decommissioning activity in the next 5 to 10 years. Provision of timely and fit for purpose data will be a key enabler to underpin and optimise decommissioning and waste management which has the potential to significantly reduce the decommissioning liability.

The current projected cost of decommissioning relies on numerous assumptions, such as the extent of radioactive contamination and waste generated during decommissioning however, due to uncertainties with the data available, the expected cost of decommissioning covers a wide range.

Consequently there is a significant opportunity and need to reduce the decommissioning cost and duration through the deployment of innovative characterisation tools and techniques.

For further information on the Sellafield site, please visit